The ongoing dollar shortage in the country has now taken another threatening turn, as there is a scarcity of life-saving drugs and equipment in the hospitals, according to Dr Tipu Sultan, one of the foremost names in the country’s medical profession and ex-chairman of the Sindh Health Commission.
Pakistan is currently reeling from economic distress amid fast-depleting foreign exchange reserves, weakening rupee, and worsening macroeconomic cues.
“We will run out of healthcare equipment in a matter of weeks. Medical labs are also in short supply. Moreover, there is also a decline of life-saving drugs,” Dr Tipu Sultan told a private channel during a show aired on Friday night.
Sultan added that there is a “visible shortage” of disposable equipment used for cardiovascular surgeries and intensive care.
“There is limited stock available in private sector health care units. There is no stock available in public sector hospitals,” he said.
The medical expert shared that due to this development, hospitals are deferring elective surgeries.
“Major surgeries i.e. knee replacement and hip replacement, which require a lot of material, are being deferred and equipment is being reserved for emergency surgeries,” said Dr Sultan.
He said due to the non-availability of raw materials, medicines are not being manufactured either. “Similarly, medicines that are imported including ones for heart acute medicines are not available in the local market,” he said.
Pakistan’s economy is currently facing one of its worst crisis in decades as foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) fell another $245 million to a highly critical level of $5.58 billion, it was reported on Thursday. This is the lowest level of SBP-held reserves since April 2014. Market talk suggests the number is likely to go fall further as Pakistan repays its debts.
At the same time, the country has failed to secure much-needed funding from friendly nations and struggled to restart its International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout programme.
The struggle has left policymakers in Pakistan scrambling to arrange foreign exchange amid heightened worries over the country’s economic health.
Moreover, market rumours of a possible default by Pakistan are also making rounds but the government of Pakistan remains optimistic that Saudi Arabia will offer crucial support for foreign exchange reserves.
In a related development, Fujifilm Pakistan CEO Syed Haider Ali Naqvi said that the segment, which his company specialises, has been unable to open Letters of Credit (LCs) as per its usual banking cycle and this development might trigger a severe shortage of X-ray, CT and MRI films for the first time in the country’s history.
Source: B Recorder